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Name: Gutenberg

Location: Somewhere near the Golden Gate Bridge.

Occupation: BRPR (Bunrab public relations.)

the BUNRAB blog spot

Do you need to answer back? You can send me comments if you want to.

If I want to, I'll post 'em in this very blog.



Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Student Driver

Back for another visit to the CCA’s restaurant. This time, it was practically empty.
The amuse bouche was a slice of pate en croute which had an undercooked, gummy feel to the pastry.

The host came by to see how we were enjoying our meal and I asked how it was that students got customer response for their cooking. He said that there is a questionnaire at the end of the meal.

I was happy to see Dungeness Crab Salad ($8.00):

... on the menu now that the pricing dispute has been settled. Two mounds of grated celery root and apple supported the crab. The menu said that it contained, “a hint of Rau Ram.” I asked the server what Rau Ram was:

“a vegetable”

“what kind of vegetable?”

“cooked chunks of fennel”

“like braised fennel?”

“yeah, braised fennel”

I looked it up when I got home and found that it’s Vietnamese Coriander which is actually related to fennel, but it isn’t what I would call fennel.

The dominating flavor came from the celeryroot which overshadowed the mild crab. I think that a simpler presentation might have helped this dish from looking like an amoeba fissioning.

The Tomato and Avocado Tartar ($6.00):

... was capped with a circle of dull colored salmon. It might have been more appealing to present the salmon in the middle of the tower. Tomato, red onion and avocado filled out the cylinder with a small moat of eggplant coulis. The red onion was strong enough to set the dish off balance.

My favorite was the trio of pork ($10.00.) I asked the server what the 3 cuts were and he didn’t know. But what showed up were pork belly, shoulder and ribs. There were two small pieces of belly, one very fatty, one leaner with crunchy strips of cracklins. The ribs were bonier than Nicole Ritchie. The amount of calories that I expended in gnawing the microbe thin layer of meat from them was not reciprocated in the number of calories that I ingested. The shoulder, however was nicely marbled and cooked to a tender unctuousness with cabbage and carrots. A filo wrapped bundle of rib meat and delicious poached pear filled out the plate.

The sirloin burger ($10.00) is a short rib stuffed patty topped with blue cheese béchamel and onion confit served open faced with potato chip strips. My personal preference is to eat a burger with my hands rather than a knife and fork and this was not that sort of a dish. The unrelenting heaviness of the meat, Stilton and caramelized onions didn’t have the relief of lettuce or tomato to make this reach it’s full potential. Even a pickle on the side would help.

BUT this is a student exercise. I think it’s like learning to drive in the race track parking lot. You really can’t do that much damage and you know you are going to grind the gears a little. So what? You’re learning.

I realized after lunch that no questionnaire materialized. Ah well.

Bistro 350
350 Rhode Island
San Francisco, CA

And speaking of driving, check out who I was behind today:

Is Bob is a serious self-enthusiast or what? And what is up with it being on the back of his car? Are we saying we’re glad Bob is leaving?? I’m really not at all sure about Bob.

I got some email from Dr. B at Meathenge about yesterday’s pho:


what're you pimpin' on man? You're going out nearly every day for food like that? Eh? How long do you think you can keep it up? Uh, in regards to the new pho place in the tenderloin. How would you rate the msg level? I've had to cut out all my local places due to crazy amounts of msg. So much so that my mouth is all funky for 3 days afterwards. Even the fancy places at the pacific east mall I can't go anymore. It makes Biggles sad.



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B,

I know, it’s sad about MSG. It’s true what you say, the ‘loin is far from an MSG free zone. I figure if I increase my ingestion incrementally, I can develop an immunity. It’s not working so far, but I’m not a quitter!

Stay meaty,





Tuesday, November 29, 2005

When it’s cold and rainy in the Tenderloin, there’s really only one thing to eat. Pho.
Pho Kim Long Restaurant has only been open for a week, but this little Vietnamese eatery has already caught on with some of the locals.

I got a medium sized bowl of Pho Dac Biet ($5.25*):

... which is a beef broth with rice noodles, thin slices of round steak, flank, tendon, tripe and a half a meatball (yes, only a half of a meatball, I’m guessing that you get a whole meatball if you order the large bowl.)

It comes Southern style with a plate of bean sprouts, basil, jalapeños and lime. I’m getting pretty good at my spoon/chopstick/slurping technique and made fast work of my warming lunch. The broth was “beefier” tasting (than most of the pho’s in the ‘loin) which overpowers the flavors of the tripe (of which there was little) and tendon.

It was pretty good, but my top ‘loin rankings still go to Turtle Tower and Bodega Bistro (in that order.) Turtle Tower’s version has the balance of flavors that suit my taste. I also like to order the raw beef on the side so that I don’t risk losing it’s flavor and texture due to overcooking.

English isn’t the prevailing language here, so use the numbers when ordering if you don’t speak Vietnamese.


*As a grand opening special, everything’s 20% off, so my lunch only set me back $4.30 today.

Pho Kim Long
807 Ellis St.
San Francisco, CA


Sandra K writes:


just a some tips in case u didn't know it already, sometimes the Indonesian/Malay language take the exact pronunciation from their English counterpart and spell it in a more simplified way. Hence, 'Kari' means Curry. Otherwise, 'sayuran' means 'vegetables'. Here's some more helpful tidbits in case you plan to go back for any Indonesian or Malay cuisine: Ayam - Chicken Daging - Beef Kambing - Mutton Mee - noodles Nasi - rice Ais - Ice Air - Water Air Suam - Warm water Kopi - coffee Teh - Tea Babi - Pork (but,yea,u won't find it if it's in a Muslim restaurant) :P
Hope it helps ya in any way....


Gutenberg Replies:

Dear Sandra,

Thanks for the cool tips. I noticed that Vietnamese have something similar where “Xe lua” means extra large(?) on big bowls of pho (I’m guessing…)

Stay khoo,





Monday, November 28, 2005

I'm not sure what the deal is, but I found myself alone in a restaurant again at 1 o'clock in the afternoon in the heart of a major metropolitan city:

Spooky. Borobudur is an Indonesian restaurant down the street from the place where I got the chicken gizzards and stink beans last month.

You get to pick two items to go in the lunch combination ($8.25) which begins with some soup made with rice noodles, fried tofu, overcooked hard boiled egg, bean sprouts and chopped scallion:

This was skipable mostly due to the overcooked rubbery egg white and dry grainy yolk. Luckily, the rest of lunch was an improvement. The combo comes with a salad of bean sprouts, cabbage and green beans dressed in a mildly hot peanut sauce and topped off with shrimp chips. The kari sayuran consisted of Barbie-sized corn on the cobs, carrots, beans, red pepper and zuke slices in a curried coconut milk sauce. It was okay, I've just never been really into Barbie corn.

The Babat Goreng was marinated beef tripe that aspired to be French fries:

These were pretty tasty. They had a chewiness that was offset by the crisp, frilly outside bits. These went well with the temple shaped rice sandcastle that I promptly destroyed and topped with these bits of stomach and veg.

The service was friendly and efficient, but English isn't the prevailing language here.

700 Post St.
San Francisco, CA

From today's bunrab email:

Gregory writes:


Next time you're on 4th street in Berkeley you should stop by Sketch Ice Cream, right next door to Bette's Diner. Sketch has the best ice cream in town, and addictive house made toffee and caramels. sketchicecream.com


Gutenberg Replies:

Dear Gregory,

I absolutely agree. Sketch is one of my all time favorite ice cream places. Eric and Ruthie turn fresh, top quality ingredients into the best ices, gelatos, candies and cookies. Their cute little bags of candied nuts and pate des fruits are the ultimate stocking stuffer.

Stay cool,





Sunday, November 27, 2005

Chubby and I lunched at the new Ciao Bella
in Corte Madera on Prosciutto panini ($7.25) and Portobello panini ($6.95.):

Both were encased in crusty ciabatta and made with good ingredients, but they suffered from being removed prematurely from the grill. I considered asking for it to be fixed, but realized that it would have either resulted in putting it back on the grill after we had bitten into our food (unsanitary) or throwing it away (wasteful.) I also took into consideration that it is only their second day of business and they were just getting used to the set up.

The Portobello mushrooms were thinly sliced and had a layer of roasted red peppers (that could have used a balsamic kick.) The provolone didn’t realize it’s melty potential, but I’ll bet this is good when it reaches it’s molten state.

The prosciutto sandwich had slices of tomato, red onion, mozzarella and provolone. It was slightly cold in the middle so the flavors didn’t meld as well as could be expected. Of the two, this was the more interesting with it’s hint of hammy saltiness against the acid of the tomato. I’ll probably order this one next time and specify that it should be cooked until well done.

But, it’s obvious that sandwiches are not the reason that this place is in business:

Dessert was a small cup ($3.75) half of lime sorbet and half champagne sorbet. The lime was tangy against the more subtle champagne (which they caution you is slightly alcoholic but in reality, it would take approximately a cooler full to get a buzz on.) Chubby had half chocolate gelato and half coffee gelato. The chocolate is always a fave and goes well with the rich coffee which is freckled with bits of grounds.

The chow at Ciao isn’t as bella as the desserts, but I’ll bet with a bit of experience in working with unfrozen foodstuffs, they will get the hang of it quickly.

Ciao Bella
132 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, CA
(415) 924-5455



Saturday, November 26, 2005

Forth Street in Berkeley
was hopping today. It was like a flash mob without the going away part. The shocker was that it didn’t take long to get a seat at the counter at Bette’s.

Chubby had the fish sandwich with coleslaw:

Pan fried, flour dredged, sole nestled in shredded lettuce atop toasted baguette. The tartar sauce gave the necessary tang to this simple filet-o-fish sandwich done right. The coleslaw had that too liquidy syndrome which meant he had to use his fork as a colander as he ate it. Chubby didn’t seem to mind though.

I ordered from the specials. The apple griddlecakes were fluffy buttermilk cushions filled with shredded apple:

They don’t bother with that cheapo imitation stuff, you get a pitcher of real maple syrup.

I also had the special chicken and bacon sausages which arrived hot off the griddle with my perfectly cooked over easy eggs. A delish breakfast.

The diner was prepared for a busy day. Both Bette and Manfred were behind the counter getting all the hungry shoppers watered and fed.

Bette’s Oceanview Diner

1807 4th St.
Berkeley, CA

Ciao Bella quietly opened it’s doors in Corte Madera today:

...and unlike their branch at the Ferry Building they serve panini (as well as gelati, sorbets, smoothies and shakes.) There are a few items for the “bambini” including peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. They also plan to add salads to the menu at a later date.

There is limited indoor seating with some additional tables and chairs directly outside the shop. If these are all taken, there is a central courtyard to the mall with plenty of additional benches and tables.

They will be open daily from 11 – 9, but if they don’t get enough business to justify these hours, they will whittle them down.

Ciao Bella
132 Corte Madera Town Center
Corte Madera, CA
(415) 924-5455





Friday, November 25, 2005


Chubby and I decided to try to make it to Boca for lunch by the time it stopped serving at 2:30. Fap, fap, fap…

...the flat back tire put an end to that plan. On with those wingy micro-spares and off to the tire shop.

We pulled up to Boca as they were opening for dinner at 4:45 to grab a bite in the bar. We got the calamari ($8.00*) to start.

These tender, young squid were lightly battered and fried to a greaseless deliciousness. The lemony, cilantro, mustard laced, aioli was good, but these were fine with just a squirt of lemon.

We also ordered a couple of their burgers ($10.00*):

... which they make with ground sirloin. The meat had a nice grind and flavor. I wish that the grilled onions didn’t have a fridge chill to them. The thicky sliced roma tomatoes and leaves of butter lettuce rounded out the sandwich. Duck fries (potatoes fried in duck fat) were good, but next time I’ll order them extra crispy.

We didn’t read the fine print on the bar menu when we ordered and were shocked by the bill. Mondays thru Fridays between 4:30 and 6:30 all the food items on the bar menu are 50% off.

...4 dollar calamari and 5 buck burger and fries. Who knew? Next time I’ll have to check out the lobster corn dog…

340 Ignacio Blvd
Novato, CA

Check out the Bunrab’s recent visit for a steak dinner there.

Later it was off to see Shopgirl:

... the Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman picture which delivered wonderful, nuanced, performances and a bit of humor. A good way to remedy our earlier deflation.



*minus 50%



Thursday, November 24, 2005


Chubby and I made a very simple, but satisfying Thanksgiving supper.

Neither of us are really into turkey. I mean, it’s okay, but why have turkey when there’s duck? Duck is flavorful with all it’s fat that melts off, basting it’s ducky flesh under it’s crispy skin.

The bonus is the yummy duck liver, heart and gizzard that come it a little duck sack.

This was the perfect cook’s treat as the rest of din was percolating.

The starters: endive and spinach salad with pomegranate, satsumas, and citrus vinaigrette:

Then on to:

roast duck with sauerkraut, apple and caraway seed stuffing

Brussel sprouts with pancetta, chestnuts and marsala

quinoa with squash, onion, thyme, and mint

pre-dessert – basil seed gelee:

...and finally, pumpkin bourbon streusel tart with crème chantilly.

I forgot to put the toasted almonds on the salad, but it didn’t seem to need them. The basil seed jello was kind of a joke, but it was actually good.

Chubby made the pumpkin tart:

...from the November Fine Cooking Magazine but didn’t make the crust border a half inch thick as they indicated and had to wait to put the streusel topping on until after it had baked 20 minutes. The recipe said to put it on before baking, but the batter was too thin to keep it from sinking. The resulting tart was very good, not too sweet and a little boozy.

Man are we full.




Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Mmmmmm Pork leg ($6.95):

... was just too good. They say that it’s best to eat the right leg on a pig because it moves around more (scratching) than the other (unless you get a lefty.) Well, I don’t know which side this one was from but it was pork-a-licious. The sauce with garlic and peppers pushed it over the top.

Thai House Express
901 Larkin Street
San Francisco, Ca

Made the requisite Tgiving-eve market visits and there were a lot of tense shoppers moving too fast and frowning. The shops seemed pretty prepared with extra people in the aisles to help find those once a year ingredients. I think it’s funny that 99% of pumpkin dishes are made with the canned squash, yet it’s somehow seasonal…kind of like a specialized canned tuna festival.

The only traditional item that I don’t understand is canned cranberry sauce. It does nothing for me. Fresh is easy to make, but still doesn’t ring the bell as far as I’m concerned. I just don’t like it with turkey in the same way I don’t like mint jelly with lamb. It’s like trying to imagine meat as a slice of toast…my brain can’t process it.

Chubby got some email from a big time burger fan.

Dan writes:


Marin Joe's in Mill Valley... the "Special Cheese Burger" Dear Lord... thank you...


Chubby replies:

Dear Dan,

You are a man of few words, all of which I find convincing. I’ll have to check out your recco.

Your pal,


Sam writes:

"hey Chubster,

Just catching up on what you've been up to. Couleur just down the street from us and my fave rest manager in town (exPlouf) is going to be heading it up. I can't wait either, hope t see you there. last I heard Dec 2nd should be their opening date."

Chubby replies:

Dear Sam,

Wow, that's really soon! Maybe you'll see me camping out front so I'll be first in line.

Your pal,




Tuesday, November 22, 2005

California Pizza Kitchen (or “CPK” if you want to use it’s “edgy” name) came up with a new way to torture hungry travelers. It’s called California Pizza Kitchen ASAP. I Donnered-out and bought one of their Chicken Ceasar Sandwiches ($7.99):

... from the refrigerator case. It was everything you would expect from a mass produced airport sandwich. Chunks of chemically enhanced white meat chicken in a foccacia style roll with tired, wilted, purple onion slices serving as decoration (rather than flavoring.) Mature sheets of romaine possessed all the qualities of recycled printer paper (except for the being green part) slices of tasteless tomato completed the effect.

I think the “ASAP” stands for “As Sucky As Possible.”

Disappointing food can be a reminder of how good we normally have it while on one’s own turf.


Today’s bunrab email box had a letter to Chubby about Picco Pizzeria:

A.N. writes:

"Pizza: really good. Service: really lame.
We have had experiences very much like Stacy, right down to the burning hot olives. We keep going back, because we live 2 blocks away and the food really is good. The key is to be really clear with the staff. Repeat the obvious several times, and it eventually seems to sink in."



Chubby replies:

Dear A.N.,

I’m glad you’ve found the workaround to get what you need. I get the feeling that the kinks in service are shaking out and that there will be smoother sailing ahead (hopefully before burning anyone’s tongue off with the molten olives.)

Your pal,






Monday, November 21, 2005

No whines about this bar:

A little ways down the road from Sausalito’s tourist central, there’s a nice little family run enoteca that serves small plates.

La fettunta ($6.00):

Feta, artichoke hearts, pinenuts, sun dried tomato and a chiffonade of basil top off crisp toasted bread slices. This is a great crostini to have with a glass of one of their more robust wines.

Molinari Salami panini ($8.00):

I liked the red pepper puree (instead of sliced, roasted peppers) on this tangy goat cheese and salami sandwich. The outside had nice panini tread marks of crispiness and the little mesclun salad complemented this simple dish well.

Brussel Sprout salad ($8.00):

... was like a coleslaw with mini cabbages. There were little chunks of pecorino which make their way to the bottom unless you don’t give it a toss or two as you eat this refreshing, lemon juice and evoo dressed veggie dish.

You can get flights of wines or a bottle (they even have retail prices for those who want to buy a bottle to take home.) It’s a good place to have a nice glass of wine and a little bite. I’m definitely coming back with Chubby.

317 Johnson St.
Sausalito, CA





Sunday, November 20, 2005


It's not called a burger here it's called, "fresh ground beef steak" cause they grind their rib eye and chuck steaks on site daily and cook them medium rare (unless you tell them to do otherwise.) You specify your desired patty size as 4, 6 or 8 oz. The default size on the menu is the small option.

The #1 ($7.95 plus .60¢ for cheese) is their burger with Bermuda onions, lettuce, an anemic disc of tomato and pickle slices. I ordered blue cheese on mine. I really liked the coarse grind of meat that was cooked to a nice medium rare. The bun held up to the meat but had a homogenous texture that wasn't as special as what it was holding (and the buns match the larger sized burgers, not the quarter pound ones which have a margin of bread only at the edges.) The blue cheese was a good salty, rich addition to this burger.

I requested the 6 oz patty on my #3 ($8.75 plus $2.25 for 6 oz patty, plus .60¢ for cheese):

... which filled out the bun nicely. The butter sautéed Bermuda onions and sharp cheddar made for a tasty burger experience.

The fries ($1.75) were fine, nothing special. I requested them extra crispy, but they didn't have an "extra" feel in that department. A better choice was the onion rings ($3.00):

... which were big slices with a breadcrumb coating, fried to a crispy doneness without being greasy. The onion remained wedded to the coating on these (I hate it when the onion comes out with the first bite and all you are left with is the vacant onion casing.)

The comfy booths are surrounded by custom neon signs touting the features of the establishment and are supplemented by beer advertising illumination.

It's a funky place that has a local following and is kid friendly (as long as you aren't put off by the monkey doll that delivers a wolf whistle whenever a new patron enters.)

The owner, Joe keeps a watchful eye to make sure everything is up to standards. Check out Chubby's ranking of all the burgers on the Burger Holy Grail.

Speaking of the Chubster, he said that as good as this place is, he wanted his steak unground today, so he headed over to sleepy Novato in Marin County and got all us bunrabs a table at a fantastic steakhouse. Check out his new review of Boca.

Joe's Cable Car Restaurant
4320 Mission St.
San Francisco, CA





Saturday, November 19, 2005


Chubby and I went to a little place in Yountville today.

Right now we're kind of full...

French Laundry List:



Salmon tartare cornets with crème fraiche

Artichoke soup with raviolini of niciose olives

Celery root soup with celery

Pickled oyster with cucumber capellini and sevruga caviar

Sabayon of pearl tapioca with oyster and osetra caviar

"Thomas' English muffin" (get it? Thomas'?) with poached hen egg and black truffle coin

Egg custard with black truffle ragu and potato chive chip

Risotto made with Carnaroli rice and topped with shaved white truffle

Polenta with veal jus topped with shaved white truffle

Chard stuffed sole turban with pumpkin moon

Kahala almondine with endives and black pepper gastrique

Lobster tail with vanilla bean and saffron with arrowleaf spinach

Lobster tail with carrots and peashoots

Seared foie gras (x2) with duck confit stuffing and cranberries

Beef Coulette with spaezel, poached prune, leeks and dijonaise sauce

Hot Epoisse with cardoons topped with room temperature Epoisse.

Petite Basque with mushrooms and whole grain mustard emulsion

Plum sorbet with mini crepes stuffed with raisin coulis aside a mini panna cotta

Satsuma Mandarin orange sorbet with lime foam

Coffee semi-freddo with fresh donuts (x2)

Pithivier with chocolate semi-freddo, Mandarin orange sections and dark chocolate tuille

Valrhona chocolate dome with a wildflower honey base, chocolate tuille and cocoa nibs

Lemon posset

Crème brulee with Tahitian vanilla




Dr B. from Meathenge writes:

"Hey Foo, Gioia gots fatted calf Calabrese & pancetta on a few of their pizzas. You go now, eat food."

Gutenberg Replies,

Dear Dr. B.,

I don't think I'll ever eat again after dinner tonight, but if I change my mind, I will definitely check out the Fatted Calf toppings at Gioia.

Stay meaty,

- G



Friday, November 18, 2005

RCZ's supercool birthday called for a supercool cake. Got to catch up with old friends and meet some new ones over sushi and cake.

I used the chocolate cake recipe from Chez Panisse Desserts but with all bittersweet chocolate (no semisweet.) However, the most important step is to put Chubby's likeness on top.

Happy Birthday RCZ!




Thursday, November 17, 2005


I love grabbing a slice of pizza when I'm running around town. On Shattuck, there's the Cheeseboard and near the bay, there's Lanesplitter.

You get your choice of Neapolitan (thin crust) or Sicillian (thick) pizza. I chose Neapolitan for a slice of Carnivore and Herbivore (each $2.75):

Carnivore has pepperoni, sausage, mushroom and onion over a thin layer of tomato sauce. What makes this good is the balance of ingredients. There isn't a pool of tomato sauce covered with a blanket of bubbling cheese with a pools of meat fat oozing from wads of chubs. The ratio of ingredients to dough provides a crisp crust and concert of flavors that makes for a tasty slice.

The Herbivore has chopped, raw spinach, mushrooms, onions and those out-of-the-tin pitted, black olives. Not fancy, just good.

I love the vibe at this casual, funky pub. Friendly service with plastic plates and cloth napkins (very environmentally correct.) It's a beer joint with good eats. What's not to like?

You can customize your own pizza with the normal array of toppings at this little chain pizza place. There are also branches in Oakland and Albany.

Lanesplitter Pub and Pizza
2033 San Pablo Ave.
Berkeley, CA



Wednesday, November 16, 2005

When I was paying for my lunch at Tabla today, I told the owner, "I always feel good after I eat your food." The lady after me in line interjected, "it's like medicine!"

The quinoa salad ($4.75):

... had chunks of fennel, onion, tomatoes and a chiffonade of basil. This was satisfying in every way. Simple, delicious and made with pristine ingredients. Quinoa is a psydo-grain it's really a seed that is super high in protein. It looks a little like millet or couscous, but it has a more delicate texture.

The lamb meatball dosai ($10.00):

... was a hit as well. The herbed balls of ground lamb, Italian parsley, chopped cabbage and picked onion went beautifully with the house made pear chutney.

I just wish this place were open on Sundays.

Tabla Café
1167 Magnolia Ave.
Larkspur, CA


Dr. B. writes about my student cuisine post from earlier this week:


Oh, I LOVE letting students perform medical procedures on me. I spent a lot of time at UCSF, quite a bit of time actually. I got some extremely cute nurses learning to insert needles in the back of my hand for a permanent IV drip. Sure it took them 6 to 8 tries, but it was worth every mis-poke. Sometimes they'd have to get their superior nurse to complete the job, oh yeah. Bring in the reinforcements, I say. I'd do it again and again, no problem.

Take care,



Gutenberg replies:

Dear Dr. B,

I hope that it was a demi-glace IV drip to get you through the needling. Ouch. BTW, your Tomatillo Chile with Pork looks insanely good.

Stay meaty,

- G





Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Couleur Café is going to be run by Chez Maman and Chez Papa folks. They will serve up simple food: couscous, chicken curry..in a casual enviroment.

There will be 48 seats inside and outdoor seating when they open in about a month (next door to Sally's Restaurant) on De Haro near 17th. I can't wait.

Up the street at Bistro 350, the maitre d's welcome at 12:30 today was, "I know it doesn't look like it, but we are fully booked for lunch" he suggested reservations next time. This place caught on quick.

Dos Pinas is just down the street. It's like a non-chain, order-at-the-counter version of Chevy's. The soft tacos (3 for $4.00):

... were good with a squeeze of lime and some of the hot self serve salsa from the fridge. The house made chorizo with a little dry, but still good, the carnitas and steak both benefited from a splash of salsa.

Santa Fe Salad ($7.50):

A large bowlful of chopped romaine, sliced radishes, grilled beef chunks, black beans, corn, jack cheese, over crisp tortilla chips was nothing that you wouldn't expect from the description. Perfectly okay though.

The Tuesday Berkeley Farmers' Market had some luscious pomegranates:

... and ultra ripe persimmons. I only wish Fatted Calf still had a Tuesday slot at the market (I really wanted a fegatelli.) I ran into some friends for a nice chat as we all took our cloth market bags (this is Berkeley) to fill with organic produce.


Dos Piñas
251 Rhode Island St.
San Francisco, CA




Monday, November 14, 2005

The great thing about checking out Bistro 350 is that you can look at it as supporting next generation of chefs while saving a few bucks and there's a chance that you may actually get something tasty.

I'm not keen on letting students cut my hair, perform medical procedures on me or impact my life in a way that doesn't allow for a do-over, but a visit to the California Culinary Academy's café was worth a try.

This amuse was truly amuse-ing:

The little house made potato chips with a blob of sturgeon mousse and little floppy ears sticking out seemed like they were trying a little to hard to do something, but I'm not sure what…

The oxtail salad ($5.00):

...was had a lattice of granny smith apple matchsticks over braised oxtail and a lightly dressed salad. The contrast of temperatures between the cold frisee and warm oxtails didn't work well and the apple didn't provide enough of a crispy contrast to the tender meat. I liked the oxtail with the pomegranate though.

Rack of lamb ($16.00):

...arrived with a merguez crust that was overly salty. The meat itself was not pink inside like I like it, but still tender and tasty.

I think that it would be helpful for the students to get feedback from the end user. If they are too busy to ask, they should give a survey or website to gauge the satisfaction level of the diners.

I like the idea of this big, white tablecloth training ground and plan to do a 360 to 350 again for another try soon.

Bistro 350
350 Rhode Island
San Francisco, CA




Sunday, November 13, 2005


It was my first visit to Comforts (which does really good take-out) since they took over the area that used to house Barton's Bagels. Their new café is small with a nice airy feel and there was only a 5 minute wait for a table.

The hostess was not exactly welcoming, but the server was very nice.

Part of the reason I got this bowl of soup is that I love saying “Albondigas” ($9.50):

Little pork and beef meatballs bobbed around chunks of carrot, cabbage, zucchini, tomatoes, chilies, ripe avocado, tortilla strips and crème fraiche (huh? crème fraiche? Oh, yeah, it's Marin…) It needed some cilantro and lime juice, but a shake of hot sauce pepped it up. Warming with good quality ingredients, but not impressive overall.

Their Huevos Rancheros ($9.50):

... were perfectly serviceable. I requested my eggs over "very" easy and they arrived perfectly cooked. I'm glad that there was some Tabasco on the table because their salsa was too mild. The roasted chilies, onions, jack cheese and black beans were all fine, just nothing special.

I guess it really isn't a good idea to come here and order up a bunch of Mexican food, but I came wanting something breakfasty and got distracted.

335 San Anselmo Ave.
San Anselmo, CA




Saturday, November 12, 2005

Hangar Tube Steaks:

Check out this delish Fatted Calf sausage in a section of epi:

It was fantastic. Taylor & Toponia know how to please a crowd.

Hangar One had it's holiday open house today and hundreds of their biggest fans:

... came to sample their famous vodkas and aqua perfectas.

They also unveiled their De Profundis, a 20 year old pear brandy and Heirloom, (no, not distilled tomatoes) their apple brandy.

Shellmound Oyster Bar shucked up a storm:

...and had a mignonette infused with some Hangar One's Fraser River Raspberry Vodka.

We saw F and C from Gastronomie but didn't spot Dr. B. from Meathenge and S. from Becks and Posh is busy nursing F back to health overseas - Get well soon Fred!

Lance Winters:

...always does an amazing job of juggling the thirsty, rowdy, masses while making them feel right at home. The tasting room is required visiting for those ready to get into the holiday spirits.

Hangar 1
2601 Monarch St.
Alameda, CA




Friday, November 11, 2005


Choxie is supposed to be chocolate with moxie, but it failed on both counts.

Choxie is Target's interpretation of artisan chocolate.

The Dark Chocolate Flakey truffles ($5.00) looked innocent enough. They depended on vegetable oil for their smooth feel and lacked depth and intensity that a dark chocolate fan would anticipate. The box claims that these are, “a must for any self-respecting chocophile” uh, I guess that means I am a self loathing chocopath.

Seven truffle temptations ($5.00) should be renamed the seven truffle sins. These Choxies are staying trendy with chai tea, crème brulee, champagne, pumpkin, irish cream, candy cane and French roast varieties. The flavorings they use are overpowering and the chocolate has a waxy mouthfeel.

The Choxies that made me want to shampoo my tongue were the artisan truffle tiles ($5.00):

They are cloying in their sweet, sans-arty way. Cinnamon prailine, café latte, jasmine tea, lemon rose, pepper/mint, key lime, apple pie and chilli limon were the names that Target gave them. I can only think of one name for these.

You could argue that chocolates from Target are an easy “target” and that for five bucks you really shouldn't expect Recchuti, but See's is superior because they taste their chocolate to make sure it's good and don't machine-gun you with advertising about their high quality product.

Target makes a big deal out of Choxie's use of Belgian chocolate, as if this somehow elevates them to a premier cru status. They claim that “it's intended for the most sophisticated of chocolate palates. We suggest you keep it hidden from mere amateurs.” You'll get no argument from this amateur.

But there is a good lowbrow chocolate fix in you are at Target. The “limited edition” darkside (dark chocolate) M&Ms (lowbrow, waxy and yet good in a trailer park kind of way.) I love the fact that there is something so ghetto that they call “limited edition.” Creating a false premium definitely works for them. It brings out the inner miser.






Thursday, November 10, 2005

Still trying to crack Novato…

I felt obliged to allow this restaurant's name to influence my order (although I noticed that the other customers had not followed suit.) Most of the diners at the surrounding tables had ordered sandwiches with fries and gigantor salads.

There are 101 listed omelet options. I ordered #23 with broccoli, spinach, sautéed onions and Swiss cheese ($6.80.):

Although perfectly acceptable, I wouldn't order this 3 egg veggie flap again. The broccoli and spinach were fine, but the onions were undercooked. I wasn't expecting them to be beautifully caramelized, but I didn't expect them to have any crunch to them. The Swiss cheese put up major resistance and needed to be spaghettied around my fork. Standard issue wheat toast came alongside.

The server was very efficient and nice but I didn't see anything on any nearby plate that inspired a need for a return visit.

The Golden Egg Omelet House
807 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA

From the bunrab mail:

Craig C. writes:

"Dear Chubby,

Your best burger roundup is great, but I would like to throw my suggestion into the hat. Joe's Cable Car Restaurant, way, way out on Mission. Think neon explosion+grandmas house (ok, my grandma is a little weird, but still). I order a 6oz Joes burger, medium rare, blue cheese, fries. My treat, just tell me when.

Craig http://www.joescablecar.com/ "

Chubby replies:

Dear Craig,

I've actually had Joe's on my to do list, but based on your recco, I should definitely move it up in priority (if not for the burger, for the décor)

Your pal,


My pal Sean B writes:

"Dear Gutenberg,

So sorry about the late-ish comment concerning SPAM, (a post made by you around Halloween time) I must mention how the images of SPAM and Halloween candy compliment each other nicely. But my actual comment has to do with the fact that I have converted many (dozens) of friends and family to the gourmet-esque quality of BBQ SPAM. A glorious method of preparation introduce to me by YOU a few years ago. I even impressed my almost-a-vegetarian sister with it's bacon-like qualities (mmmmm bacon....) Our local no-frills grocery store carries cases of SPAM in a variety of flavors, "Original", "Bacon bits"(mmmmm bacon....) "low salt", and my particular favorite: "Tabasco hot 'n' spicy" compelling us to stock up on the meat product for armageddon type emergencies. Again, the BBQ technique is far superior to any other SPAM cooking method worthy of an Iron Chef. Funny how nobody knows about it.

P.S. SPAM: S-pecially P-repared A-ssorted M-eats. Kinda like Slim Jims"

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Sean,

I am of the school that you must start with the highest quality ingredients in order to produce tasty chow. This is the only exception. Somehow, Spam alchemy is achieved when introduced to a BBQ. It is the black hole of the culinary world.

Stay meaty,





Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Mr. Smith goes to Novato:

I timewarped into Capra’s Italian Restaurant for Veal Parmigiana ($16.00):

The blanket of mozzarella had a chewing gum quality that refused to integrate with the pounded sheet of parmesan and bread crumb coated veal. A sea of marinara sauce over ziti and some chard sautéed in garlic and olive oil filled out my platter of old school eats. It would have been forgettable food if it weren’t for the atmosphere:

... (although faux wall mounted, wine barrel dispensers aren’t enough to get me to come back.)

Capra’s Italian Restaurant
7416 Redwood Blvd.
Novato, CA

Chubby took me to where the taps aren’t faux and it truly is a wonderful life. Check out his latest review of Luka’s Taproom.




Tuesday, November 8, 2005


These talal de puerco and de pollos are a mere buck fifty each.

Plucked from the warming vessel at the counter of this tidy little market, I gobbled these tender, warm masa encased, savory snacks down gleefully. Both the chicken and the pork were filled with flavorful chunks of meat. The pork ones were my favorites because they have a nice, subtle heat from the salsa verde.

For dessert, I grabbed this chunk of candied melon (89¢):

It’s heavier to lift than it looks and sweeter by a factor of a zillion. Just by looking at this photo you should probably brush your teeth immediately. This thing was sweeter than Dolly Parton on amphetamines in a Strawberry Shortcake costume singing the Good Ship Lollipop. I have never tasted any form of confection with such concentrated sugar. It’s like they were making a pop up sugar sponge and I forgot to put it in water. I mean, I have a major sweet tooth, and even I couldn’t eat my way out of this melony, rock candy prison. This is like aversion therapy for those who crave sweet.

Quezada Market
350 Rowland Blvd.
Novato, Ca

Dr. Biggles from Meathenge writes about yesterday’s jumbo food fest:


"Hey, could you fly to L.A. and go to Belisle's for me? I haven't been since Six Million dollars was enough to put cyborg parts in a human. I ordered the hot turkey sandwich and remember it having at least 1/2 gallon of gravy with an entire loaf of french bread on a platter the size of a volkswagon. Not sure if it was done to the tune of the French Laundry, but it sure was FUN. Here's a blurb off the Net: "This isn't a restaurant so much as a carnival sideshow. The size of the food here defies description: a Texas-style breakfast, featuring a 26-ounce steak, a dozen eggs, pancakes and hash browns; a barbecue platter with a ham steak the size of a Frisbee, three large beef ribs and a half-chicken; burgers with a pound of meat; foot-tall sandwiches; and cakes the size of ottomans. That's just a sample of the unbelievable volume of food thrust in your direction. Yes, the cooking lacks finesse, but Belisle's serves the biggest food in OC. For some, that's enough. (TV) 12001 Harbor Blvd., Garden Grove, (714) 750-6560. $$" I wanna go so bad, but it's too far and I'm tired. Surely being as young and spritely as ya'll, you could go. Couldn't you? Please? Oh, and bring me back an XL t-shirt too.


Dr. Biggles

Gutenberg Replies:

Dear Dr. B,

I’ll bet that they don’t have t-shirts in any size OTHER than XL with that kind of chow.
This sounds like a secret training ground for competitive eaters. I’ll bet Kobayashi is there training for the next Nathan’s hot dog contest now.

I wonder how long they take to turn a table. I mean, it usually takes me a while to get through an ottoman sized serving. Maybe they just charge rent instead of giving you a check…

So many unanswered questions….

If I ever find myself in the OC a half gallon low on gravy, I’ll know where to go….

Stay meaty,





Monday, November 7, 2005

What I can't stand about Max's is the off-kilter sense of scale you get when you see their food. That old rule about never eating anything bigger than your head gets all mixed up when all the reference material for the scale of the size of your head suddenly gets thrown out of wack.

It's like you are presented with a 25¢ coin the size of a steering wheel as your point of reference for the I've-eaten-off-the-wrong-side-of-the-Alice-in-Wonderland-mushroom dining experience. Slices of cake the size of an anvil, ice cream sundaes that rival the caloric weekly consumption of a major metropolitan city. Most of what Max's serves doesn't do it for me.

But there is just one thing that does. Is my affection for the Jimmy Dixon sandwich($11.50):

...hypocritical? Yes, in a I-love-chopped-chicken-liver-enough-not-to-care sort of way.

Fresh rye bread bulges with corned beef, pastrami, those chicken livers, chopped hard boiled eggs and grilled onions. It's meaty, oniony, livery, goodness makes me forget about how I really don't like Max's. I resent them for trying to destroy the world with their smug little rules, their win-them-over-with-quantity approach to the business and their hideous “artwork.”

The bottom line is that everyone should have a culinary vice. You really can't wander around being all Woody Hare-lson (wearing, eating and smoking hemp all day.)

Max's Restaurant
60 Madera Blvd.
Corte Madera, CA


From the bunrab mailbox:

Andi B. writes:

"Hi to you,

Could you please get your bunnybutt up to Target & review those damn Choxie chocolates? I have not tried them but I'd love to hear your wonderful opinion on them since everyone will be barraged with their commercials every 10 minutes till New Years. Many thanks for your great reviews!"

Andi from Greenbrae

Gutenberg replies:

Dear Andi,

Thanks for the suggestion. Chubby and I will certainly take our collective bunnybutts out to Tarzhay to check out the Choxie situation and report back.

Stay on target,




Sunday, November 6, 2005

If it has “fine food” in the name how bad could it be? But then again, the name “Sears” evokes images of Toughskins jeans and Kenmore appliances, so maybe the name cancels itself out…

I ordered one of their signature items, the "World Famous 18 Swedish Pancakes":

...these little cardboard discs of breakfast mockery which were offered with syrup that had never seen a tree. Even Vickie Pollard's friend Destiny (with the scabby legs) wouldn't trade a Westlife CD for these.

Sears' Fine Food
439 Powell St
San Francisco, CA

Chubby had much more luck in the fine food department. He ate at the new restaurant that moved into the former Cinq and Baby Sal's location. Check out his latest review of Simmer.


Now for some mail:

John D. writes:

"Dear Chubby,

We love your website and used it to find Picco. The other place we went to (not on your website) was Left Bank. I heard it was the original and we liked it a bunch - great bistro food! "


Chubby replies:

Dear John,

Thanks for the reminder about Left Bank. Gutenberg blogged about his yummy burger there back on Sept 18th and told me that I had to hop over and give it a review. Stay tuned…

Your pal,




Saturday, November 5, 2005


It's hard to convert a former Taco Bell, Weiner Schnitzel or IHOP due to their architectural signature that comports IHOPpiness, Schnitzel-essense, or, as in this case, Taco-Bellatude:

I had two mole enchiladas ($8.25):

...one with pollo asado and the other with carne asada. The mole sauce had a good depth of flavor (compared to last week's “eh” mole experience up the street.) Both the chicken and the pork fillings were tasty, but the pork was the better of the two, with it's chunks of slow cooked, mildly fatty meat. The rice and beans were standard issue but came alongside a slaw of carrots and cabbage.

The funny thing about all the taquerias on Grant Avenue, is that they all say the same thing on their signage:

“Real Mexican Food” as if there are fake ones on every corner and they need to warn you of their faux papusas.

Don't know that I'll make a run for the order again anytime soon, but it's a good fallback when mi no quiero taco bell.

Mi Pueblo Taqueria
950 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA




Friday, November 4, 2005

Monday thru Thursday's lunch began with a tug a the locked door of Kitchen (where I had that nice burger on October 25th) Today, there was someone inside who told me that they will no longer serve lunch and will be focusing their efforts on dinner. Bummer. They were the best lunch on Grant Street.

I walked to a little diner down the road with low expectations. The Rueben ($8.58):

arrived with a hot, crisp and toasty rye bread exterior with pastrami that had a streak or two of fat marbled in. The sauerkraut and melty cheese combined to make this not a bad choice. I was pleasantly surprised that it was non-toxic. I chose the tortilla soup as my side dish. It overcame it's slightly cornstarch thickened and parmesan from-a-green-tube defects by having nicely ripe chunks of avocado and crispy strips of tortilla chips.

The service was eager but occasionally scattered.

Don't know that I'll rush back, but it wasn't bad.

Shelley's Place
819 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA




Thursday, November 3, 2005

I thought that I should overcome my assumption that a sushi bar would be substandard simply by virtue of being located in Novato.

The place was bustling when I ordered my asparagus ($3.95):

The sad thing about this is that you can see that it is overcooked without expending the effort to taste it. These spears died a futile death.

The “9” piece sashimi plate ($8.95):

... was visually daunting as well. Odds and ends of fish flesh gave the feel that the nicer slices were saved for making nigiri sushi. It felt like I was buying out of the remnant bin at a fish fabric store.

The saving grace of this eatery is that the people who work there are very nice. Maybe it’s one of those Japanese restaurants that does better on cooked items(?) Not for me to find out.

Masa's Sushi & Appetizer Bar
813 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA





Wednesday, November 2, 2005

El Palmar looked particularly inviting for lunch due to it's attached market and bustling, small dining room.

I asked the counter person what her favorite menu item was and she said it was the Chicken Mole ($8.99):

The tortillas contained nice chunks of chicken, but the mole lacked depth and intensity which was pepped up (but not cured) with a shake of hot sauce. I don't think I'll get this again, but I noticed many good looking bowls of Pozole being slurped down by those who looked like they were in the know. I'll get one of those next time.

El Palmar
1108 Grant Ave.
Novato, CA





Tuesday, November 1, 2005



When I ducked into Danny's Café, it had all the earmarks of a Mom and Pop business with Mom in the front, taking orders, bussing and handling the money and Pop in back cooking.

I pointed at the club sandwich ($7.80):

...that a diner at a neighboring table was polishing off and mine arrived in it's frilly toothpicked glory along with a house salad. There is something seductive about a triple decker sandwich. It's like a parfait, but with bacon. The idea ended up to be greater than the flavors. But to be fair, it's a simple diner populated with locals in search of consistent calories and all outward signs point to that expectation. It's tidy with plastic foliage galore. The people who run it are hardworking and friendly and know their audience. Not my thing, but it works for them.

Danny's Café
1433 Grant
Novato, CA


I was walking past this bakery and noticed a note on the door

Dead bread? Maybe it's a Halloween reference..









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